Leaders from Africa and Asia Join Fellowship to Bring new Perspectives on International Development to Global Dialogue

February 10, 2015

For more information, or to request an interview, please contact:
Michelle Geis at mgeis@burness.com or +254 711 326 770
Andrew Quinn at andrew.quinn@aspeninst.org or +1 202 736 2291
For press materials, visit AspenNewVoices.org/Press

Leaders from Africa and Asia Join Fellowship to Bring new Perspectives on International Development to Global Dialogue
The Aspen Institute Announces 2015 Class of New Voices Fellows

Washington, DC, 03 February 2015 —The Aspen Institute announced today the 2015 class of the New Voices Fellowship, a groundbreaking program designed to amplify the voices of experts from the developing world in the global development discussion.  

The 12 new Fellows are trail-blazers in their fields, which include maternal and child health, urban planning and sanitation, and education. This year, they will be joined by four new Food Security Fellows who bring a special focus on agricultural innovations to reduce poverty and improve nutrition around the world.

The full list of 2015 fellows and descriptions of their work can be found below and at: http://newvoicesfellows.aspeninstitute.org/In-The-News/Details/0217/Class-of-2015

“Some of the most exciting innovations in international development are being designed and implemented by experts from the developing world, whose first-hand  perspectives can ensure that policies are smart, effective and sustainable for the long haul,” said Peggy Clark, executive director of Aspen Global Health and Development, and vice president of policy programs at the Aspen Institute. “Too often, however, these experts are little known outside of their home countries. To change that, the New Voices Fellowship works to ensure that these leaders have a powerful platform to speak to global media and ultimately to international policymakers.”

Meet the Fellows

The 2015 fellows come from nine countries across Africa and Asia: Bangladesh, Guinea, India, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa, and Uganda. These fellows will undertake a program of intensive media training and mentorship to help them reach a broader global audience through both traditional and new media, as well as speaking engagements.

This year’s fellows include:

  • a senior Sierra Leonean doctor helping to drive his country’s fight against the Ebola epidemic;
  • a Kenyan social entrepreneur rethinking the delivery of sanitation and hygiene services to urban slums;
  • an Indian executive pioneering new ways to track and combat sexual harassment in public places; and
  • a Ugandan lawyer championing the rights of the disabled across Africa and the rest of the developing world.

This year’s additional four fellows, focused on innovations in agriculture and food security, include:

  • a Kenyan web developer working to harness the power of mobile technology to open markets for small-scale farmers;
  • an Indian social entrepreneur building a new integrated company to transform grain production in West Africa;
  • a Ugandan veterinarian using her own small farm to show how improved production methods can boost both output and profits; and
  • a Kenyan research scientist studying new ways to fight hunger by eliminating agricultural pests. 

“We’re very excited to have a strong food security component in this year’s fellowship class,” said Andrew Quinn, director of the fellowship at Aspen. “By spotlighting this one central development challenge, we hope to help drive a broader discussion about how ending both hunger and extreme poverty could soon be within our collective reach.”

Media Work
New Voices Fellows are paired with personal media coaches, and can expect to receive introductions to select media outlets, serve as sources for journalists, and speak at high-profile conferences throughout the fellowship period. 

During the program’s first two years, New Voices Fellows were featured over 400 times in media outlets and speaking opportunities, including op-ed articles in CNN, Al Jazeera and the New York Times, interviews with NPR and the BBC, and TED talks. Under a training partnership with the Moth, a non-profit organization dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling, New Voices Fellows have told their stories to live US audiences and could ultimately reach others through radio and podcast syndication.

Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the New Voices Fellowship was established in 2013 to bring the essential perspectives of committed development experts from Africa and other parts of the developing world into the global development conversation.

Application to the fellowship is by nomination only, and nominations will open in September 2015 for the next class. The 2016 New Voices Fellows will be announced in early 2016.

For more about the New Voices Fellowship, visit www.aspennewvoices.org or email aspennewvoices@aspeninst.org. Follow all the fellows on Twitter here and the fellowship at @aspennewvoices. 

The 2015 New Voices Fellows are:

ElsaMarie D’Silva, MBA
Managing Director, Safecity, India
D’Silva is an experienced aviation professional who is interested in bringing about social change to improve the lives of women, youth and senior citizens through awareness, interaction and education. She is a co-founder of Safecity, an online platform that tracks reports of sexual abuse and harassment.  

Shikoh Gitau, MSc, PhD
Senior Consultant, Technology Innovation for Inclusive Growth at AfDB, Kenya
A computer science expert, Gitau designed a powerful mobile phone system (“Ummeli”) that connects skilled workers from townships to potential employers. She has more than 10 years of experience in ICT4D (Information and Communications Technologies for Development) design and implementation.

Samuel Kargbo, MD, MPH
Director, Reproductive & Child Health Program, Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Sierra Leone
Kargbo oversees the newly established reproductive & child health directorate in the Ministry of Health & Sanitation and is actively involved in the planning, inception and implementation of free health care for pregnant women, lactating mothers and children under five. He has also been a senior ministry official involved in Sierra Leone’s battle against the Ebola epidemic.

Rubayat Khan, MPA/ID
Co-Founder & Chief Innovation Officer at mPower Social Enterprises, Bangladesh
Khan is a social entrepreneur, development practitioner and data scientist specializing in scalable low-cost technologies for international development challenges. He co-founded mPower Social Enterprises in 2008, an organization working at the cutting edge of ICT4D and M4D (Mobile for Development), exploring innovative solutions for development projects.

David Kuria, MBA
Director at Ecotact Group, Kenya
Kuria is the CEO of Ecotact Limited and was named the Regional Social Entrepreneur of the Year for Africa, 2009. Ecotact is a social enterprise that invests in innovations to solve the sanitation crisis in Africa and beyond. The company’s award-winning flagship project, Ikotoilet (developed by Kuria), is revolutionizing the sanitation industry and transforming it into a dignified and decent service to the public. 

Abraham Leno, BA
Country Representative, American Refugee Committee (ARC), Guinea
A former refugee from Guinea, Leno is now the country representative for the American Refugee Committee (ARC) in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo, where he oversees the overall management of ARC programs in the country. His interests include disaster relief, crisis mitigation and community building for displaced persons.

Kopano Mabaso, MBChB, Msc
DPhil/PhD candidate, University of Oxford, South Africa
Mabaso is a South African medical doctor currently undertaking her PhD in population health at the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. She founded the Transitions Foundation for youth and also created WREMS (Waiting Room Education by Medical Students), a health promotion organization. Mabaso is also an award-winning fiction writer.

Relebohile Moletsane, PhD, MSc
Professor & JL Dube Chair in Rural Education, University of KwaZulu–Natal, South Africa
Moletsane acted as the director of the gender and development unit at South Africa’s Human Sciences Research Council until 2010. Her specialties include teaching and research in the areas of curriculum studies and gender and education, HIV/AIDS, education in diverse cultural contexts and research and development work with marginalized groups.

Henry Nyombi, LLB
Executive Director, Youth with Disability Development Forum (YPDDF), Uganda
Nyombi is the chairperson for the National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (NUDIPU) where he also chairs the procurement and finance committees. A lawyer by training, he works as the director of YPDDF, a community-based organization established in 2002 to enable youth with physical disabilities to enjoy equal rights in society and realize full social and education inclusion.

Misan Rewane, MBA, BA
CEO/Co-Founder, West Africa Vocational Education (WAVE), Nigeria
Rewane resolved to play a role in transforming West Africa’s education and skills development systems. Formerly a management consultant for both the private and public sector, Rewane launched WAVE to create vocational education academies to empower millions of young people with specific industry-relevant skills.

Kusum Thapa, MBBS, MPH
Asia Near East Regional Technical Advisor, JHPIEGO, Nepal
Thapa has over 25 years of experience as an obstetrician and gynecologist both in Nepal and the United Kingdom. At JHPIEGO, she provides technical leadership on areas of maternal newborn child health, family planning and reproductive health. She currently serves as the president-elect for the Nepal Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. 

Serufusa Sekidde, MBBS, MPH     
Health and Development Consultant, Oxford Policy Management UK, Uganda
Sekidde, a China-trained medical doctor, is a public health expert with training in both qualitative and quantitative research, health care financing, and monitoring and evaluation of health programs. He has worked as a medical doctor in hospitals in Uganda and South Sudan, and is a columnist at Global Health Hub.

The 2015 New Voices Food Security Fellows are:

Jamila Abass, BCS
CEO, Co-Founder, Software Developer, MFarm Ltd, Kenya
Abass is CEO and co-founder of M-Farm, a social enterprise that helps farmers trapped in subsistence agriculture move into commercial farming by leveraging mobile technology to provide needed real-time information and enable collective action.

Karan Chopra, MBA
Co-Founder & Managing Director, GADCO (Global Agri-Development Company), India/Ghana
Chopra grew up in Ghana and is now helping the nation’s poorest farmers reap higher profits. GADCO, which he cofounded, is now Ghana’s largest producer of rice; the farm loops in 1,000 impoverished local farmers, providing seeds and fertilizer, buying their crops and selling them in a global supply chain. The efficiencies possible in a large farm allow GADCO to add profit to the farmers’ bottom line.

Emma Naluyima, MUSPH, BVetMed
Private Veterinarian, Uganda
Naluyima is a smallholder farmer in Uganda and a private veterinarian focusing on clinical medicine and herd health. She has previously worked for the National Animal Genetic Resources Centre and Data Bank and advised Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, on his personal dairy farm to improve the genetics of his herd through artificial insemination.

Esther Ngumbi, PhD
Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, Auburn, Alabama, Kenya
Ngumbi is a 2007 recipient for the highly competitive American Association of University Women (AAUW) International Fellowship. She is currently a post-doctoral researcher at the department of entomology and plant pathology at Auburn University in Alabama, and serves as a 2015 Clinton Global University (CGI U) mentor for agriculture.

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit: www.aspeninstitute.org.


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